If your Advent was like ours it was busy, hectic and messy! All of the Advent devotions done with the kids seemed chaotic and disorderly. It was very often the antithesis of quiet reflection! Still, the Christ child came quietly and silently into the chaos of the entertaining, decorating, traveling, cooking, et cetera. And because he comes so quietly into the celebrations, we are invited to step back, if only in the depth of our heart, and like Mary reflect.
The readings for the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God include the story found in the Gospel of Luke 2:16-21:
"The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they say this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the had seen, just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by an angel before he was conceived in the womb."
And we are to ponder not in befuddled arrogance, demythologizing the story into oblivion, but in pure hearted wonder and awe, like Mary. Looking at the frail babe in her arms, pondering his miraculous conception and all the gracious signs that the Lord had given her so that she could continue forward in her great Fiat! What great wonder must have stirred in her heart.
I know there are many who study scripture who have taken the prophesies of -and the Gospel story itself - of the virginal conception and birth of the messiah apart; only to put it back together entirely devoid of wonder and awe, and entirely barren of the life it is intended to give. When I hear these theories I immediately think of the Parable of the Sower. The birth of the Savior has been stripped of it's fertile soil, and it cannot be planted deeply, and repeatedly pondered. Whatever grace it bestows will be taken away as soon as the dryness of ordinary life returns.
There is still hope! The miracle of the Incarnation and the miracle of conceiving life everlasting where there should be none or where the soil is dry and hostile, is always being cultivated in the hearts of those who ponder, like Mary. Purity of heart can begin to be restored in one who ponders the story of the Nativity of Christ! Life can be regenerated in hearts like mine, hearts that have a tendency become slaves to fear and cynical in our weaknesses or in reaction to the hurtful actions of others. They are regenerated when we receive and reflect on the message of the angel and trust it to be so.
Allow yourself embrace the miraculous conception of the Lord so that you can be a child of Mary, who bore the Savior in humble trust! Imitate her reflective heart and receive the Spirit of his Son so that we all may cry out Abba, Father, and be freed from the tyranny of cynicism and the slavish spirit of this world!